Milo Yield: Calving season around Kansas brings chuckles, ample stories
April 5, 2016
Oh, my, this late winter is a strange one. It's been so warm and we had a nice shower, so I tilled up some of my garden plots and the ground worked up like an ash pile.
So, ol' Nevah and I decided that we'd plant some early garden and take our chances with a late freeze. This morning we planted radishes, lettuce, two varieties of peas, three kinds of onion sets and four kinds of potatoes. We only planted about half our seed so we'll have some for either replanting, if needed, or simply a later planting.
I've also sown a couple of clover, lettuce and kale plots for chicken greens. We're supposed to get a nice rain this evening and over the weekend, so perhaps our timing will be right.
Also, I noticed this morning that my apricot tree is beginning to bloom. Since it's blooming so early this year, I just hope that there are some pollinators around and that a late freeze doesn't doom this year's apricot crop.
The calving season is in full bore for most of the Flint Hills cow-calf enterprises. And, every year, calving season brings with it some funny stories — some of which find it to my ready ear.
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Last Wednesday at the Old Boar's Breakfast — or, as the Saffordville Scribbler called it, the "Old Dog Catchers' Club" — one of the regulars, ol' Dan D. Guye, yelled at me and said, "Milo. I've got a story for your column."
I wuz all ears — and this is his story:
Dan's a cow-calf man and overnight one of his ill-tempered, overprotective old cows had a calf that Dan needed to ear tag. He knew the cow and knew it might present a dicey situation.
So when he pulled up next to the cow/calf pair, he exited his pickup and left the door open just in case he needed to make a hasty retreat. Just as he approached the rank ol' cow, the unexpected happened. The Beagle/Basset hound cross that Dan "inherited" from one of his kids, and who likes to ride shotgun in Dan's pickup, decided he needed to investigate the new calf situation.
So, the hound hopped out of the pickup and went right up to the new calf. Well, the cow went bonkers, blew some snot, pawed the ground and exploded toward the unwanted canine intruder. In a flash, the hound panicked and ran for cover. No, not back in the pickup seat, but right between Dan's now-shaking knees.
That's when someone should have had a video camera. Dan said he wuz caught trying to kick the dog out from under his feet and simultaneously slap the on-the-prod cow in the face with his cap to keep her at bay while he retreated.
I'd have loved to seen all that happening. But, all the same, it makes for a nice mental picture, because I can see it all plainly happening in my imagination.
All's well that ends well and Dan reported that nothing got hurt, except for Dan and the hound's pride. He did say, however, that the hound's riding days in his pickup are over — at least through calving season.
Listening to that story wuz ol' C. Faren Wyde, another rancher who's a regular at the Old Boar's weekly confab. After Dan wuz through, Faren piped up, "I've got another calving story for you, Milo, but it happened years ago."
Here's Faren's story:
A Chase County couple wuz in the midst of calving season and had gotten into the midnight heifer check routine. Well, one wet, foggy night when they went to check the heifers, they found one needing assistance.
Apparently, in this family the wife wuz the better veterinarian and her hubby wuz the better flashlight holder. So, wifey told hubby to hold the flashlight and she'd sneak up on the heifer on the ground and attach the calf-pulling chains.
All wuz going well until wifey had the chains about attached to the calf's feet when the heifer realized what wuz going on and broke for the horizon.
That wouldn't have been such a bad deal except for one thing. As the heifer jumped to her feet, somehow, the pulling chains got wrapped up around wifey's hands and the pair disappeared into the fog and out of hubby's flashlight beam. The last hubby saw of them, his wife wuz being towed like a mud sled behind the panicked heifer.
Hubby immediately got into their pickup and began to search for wifey in the dark and fog. That's not easy in a big Flint Hills calving pasture. He drove around yelling and honking and finally, to his relief, his wife found the pickup.
Wifey's arm wuz injured and she reported that the heifer had pulled her into a ravine and she didn't remember how she got her arm untangled from the pulling chains. Faren couldn't recall how badly the rancher lady wuz hurt, but I'm glad he could recall the rest of the story.
Last week, the sad news reached me of the death of Charles "Crazy Charlie" Thomas, the long-time owner-operator of Thomas Implement, a Case-IH dealer just outside Altamont, Kan. Charlie left this mortal coil at age 80 and left behind eight decades of good laugh, good times, a good business and a great family.
Many of Crazy Charlie's good times were prompted by his breaking into his "Donald Duck" voice to carry on a conversation. It wuz hard to understand, but no one, including me, ever failed to laugh.
I owe Charlie a lasting debt of gratitude. He wuz one of the first customers in a new publishing venture we were trying to get off the ground back in 1974. His bizness is still a customer to this day. In later years, he hired me to entertain at one of his Open House celebrations.
In reading about Charlie's funeral and memorial service, I wuz struck to near tears when I found out Charlie's customers bid him farewell and a gave him a final "farmers' salute" by lining the highway to the cemetery with their Case-IH tractors. That gesture wuz solid proof that Charles "Crazy Charlie" Thomas lived a good and useful life and left behind many fond memories, as well as many faithful, appreciative customers.
I'll close now with a bit of political yard sign wisdom: "Socialism is a great idea until it shows up in your backyard." That message wuz accompanied by a picture of a "Feel The Bern" yard sign, torn in half and this handwritten message attached: "I took half of your sign because you had one and I didn't. I'm sure you'll understand."
Have a good 'un. ❖